You could provide care and safety for an unaccompanied teen today.
You could provide care and safety for an unaccompanied teen today.
Giving hope a home
We have a growing number of young people arriving in the North East of England without their parents or a responsible adult to take care of them.
Young people have the same needs regardless of their country of birth. They need adults to take care of them, who can offer support to reach their potential, and to be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare for independent adult life.
The purpose of this appeal is to increase the pool of foster carers and supported lodgings hosts for any child or young person under 18 who arrives in the North East of England without a parent or carer, regardless of their country of origin.
Providing a home for an unaccompanied asylum seeking teen can be an extremely rewarding experience, as you provide them with the safe and secure environment they need to thrive.
Who needs help?
Many of these young people have been forced from their homes and family by war, famine and disease or persecution and social upheaval. They have a lived experience that is beyond anything that we could imagine.
They’re generally boys aged over 14, from a long list of countries including Afghanistan and Syria. Often enduring hardship and long, dangerous journeys, they arrive in the UK – unaccompanied and without money, a clear idea of if their families are alive, or whether they’ll be allowed to stay. On top of all this, they may have to apply for asylum, a long and complicated legal process, with little or no English language skills.
Caring for an unaccompanied child
You will provide a home environment where their traumatic experience is recognised but they will not feel under pressure to discuss it if they do not wish to. You will provide a home where their religion, culture and language is respected and protected, where their heritage is recognised, and where their confidence can be rebuilt.
Your role is to support them for as long as they need, helping them adapt to a new culture, maintain contact with their roots, and plan for the future – all at the same time.
Learning and embracing new cultures is good for your soul – it enriches and enhances your own outlook on life.Caroline, Foster Carer
Adrian, who opened up his home to help teach teenage care leavers the skills to succeed says the experience is “incredibly rewarding”.
Read more experiences of caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children in these case studies.
What it takes to care
To provide a home for an unaccompanied asylum seeking teen calls for empathy and huge reserves of patience and skill.
As a carer or host, you may experience some of the following:
- A young person that may not have any documentation
- A young person with little to no schooling, and so additional support could be required
- A placement with unknown duration due to the uncertainty around the young person’s circumstance
- A language barrier, particularly if the young person cannot speak or understand English
- A chance that they will have escaped extreme circumstances and could be suffering from trauma.
How we support you
While becoming a carer or host will be challenging, you will receive help at every step of the way. With the support of social workers, therapists and other professionals, you will receive help and advice from your initial enquiry. Training will be made available which will help you to understand more about the culture and experiences of the young people in your care.
Fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Attend as much training as possible and learn as much as you can so that you can be confident in opening up your home.Rachel, Supported lodging host
I’m ready to help.
The first step is to fill out our online form. Your details will be shared with your local authority and they will be in touch to provide you with more information on being a foster carer or a supported lodgings host for an asylum seeking young person.
The appeal is being run by the North East Migration Partnership on behalf of the 12 local authorities in the region. If you are interested in providing a home for an unaccompanied young person, please complete the online form by first selecting your local authority below.
If you would like further information please check out the FAQs below.
Frequently asked questions
Unaccompanied young people are a diverse group with many different experiences and cultural backgrounds. Any young person under 18 who enters the UK without a parent or carer is considered an unaccompanied young person. The term ‘unaccompanied young people’ is used to describe all those who are under 18 and who have been separated from their family and carers, have fled their country, and find themselves alone and seeking protection in this country.
These young people have had to leave their homes, their families and friends and everything they have ever known. In many cases, parents have had to take the difficult decision to send them away for their safety, making considerable sacrifices to be able to pay for their journey. The young people may not have been involved in this decision.
Some of them will be escaping from danger or ill-treatment, such as war, forced recruitment to fight as a child soldier, or abuse; some will be seeking safety from persecution, perhaps because of their political or religious beliefs, or their ethnicity; some may have been taken from their families and trafficked; others may have seen their parents and relatives imprisoned, killed or going missing.
Some young people leave their homes in the hope of escaping extreme poverty and deprivation.
Many unaccompanied young people come from countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia and arrive into the UK without a parent or responsible adult.
Most are teenagers aged 14-17 and have been separated from their families and find themselves in a new country facing the challenge of different customs and a different language.
Most young people have fled countries such as Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.
In many cases, these young people are fleeing danger and war, they may have been victims of trafficking or exploitation, or their parent or carer has disappeared. These circumstances are hugely challenging and the young people desperately need a safe and welcoming home environment where they will receive practical and emotional support and care.
It is our wish that these young people will be able to integrate into local communities, making new friends and learning English.
We are actively recruiting foster carers and supported lodgings hosts who are in the position to support these vulnerable young people who come from a range of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
The purpose of this appeal is to increase the pool of foster carers and supported lodgings hosts for any child or young person under 18 who arrives in in the North East of England without a parent or carer, regardless of their country of origin.
The appeal is being run by The North East Migrant partnership on behalf of:
• Durham County Council
• Darlington Borough Council
• Newcastle City Council
• Northumberland County Council
• Gateshead Council
• South Tyneside Council
• North Tyneside Council
• Sunderland City Council
• Hartlepool Borough Council
• Middlesbrough Council
• Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
• Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in increased humanitarian needs with many people being displaced and seeking refuge outside their country. Work is also being progressed to welcome refugees from Ukraine under schemes run by the UK Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities which is a different scheme to this one
More information on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme is available at
Foster carers offer a safe, supportive and caring home to children and young people of up to the age of 18 who are unable to live with their birth parents. In some cases young people stay with their foster family until they are 21 under a arrangement called staying put. You can always talk to your local authority about what staying put is. All young people under 16 need to live with a foster carer.
Young people who are 16 – 18 can live with either a foster carer or a supported lodgings host and this decision is made based upon their need and the level of care and support they require.
Unaccompanied young people often arrive into the North East and some are placed with foster carers who welcome them into their home and provide a nurturing family environment.
Supported lodgings is an alternative to foster care that offers young people aged 16+ the opportunity to live in the home of an approved ‘host’ or family for up to two years. Young people living in supported lodgings are given the opportunity to develop the life skills they will need in preparation for moving to their own home at a time when they are ready.
Supported lodgings hosts are still able to work while providing a home for a young refugee. As most young people are aged 16+ the host can work as long as they have enough flexibility to support a young person with their health, attend some appointments and engage in education and training. You will need to be available for training, meeting with your social worker and any emergencies.
Foster carers are usually paid more than supported lodging hosts as they are expected to provider care as well as a support and accommodation for these young people.
Prior to becoming an approved foster carer or supported lodgings host you will attend initial training which helps you understand the role, what’s expected and what to do. This is usually a short course which is completed over a number of small workshops. There is a small amount of writing involved but it is not an academic course. If you are worried in any way about attending training you can talk to your local Childrens Services about what it is you’re worried about.
Once you are approved as a foster carer or supported lodgings host you will be able to access a range of training courses which will help to extend your knowledge, skills and confidence in caring for vulnerable children and young people including young people who are unaccompanied and seeking asylum.
Foster carers and supported lodgings hosts will be expected to provide a safe and supportive home environment for young people to enable their recovery from previous trauma.
Carers and hosts should be able to offer the young person a room of their own, provide emotional support and a chance to learn life skills. They will support young people with day to day needs such as education and health care such as booking GP appointments and general welfare needs, including supporting them with their emotional and mental wellbeing. You will be required to attend some meetings with the team of professionals around the young person so we can all work together to meet their needs.
Unaccompanied young people can show remarkable resilience, but they need good support, help to establish links in the local community, to make friends, know how to get around and build support networks. This will help them to feel supported, gain confidence and adapt to life in a new country during what is otherwise a challenging time in their young lives.
Alongside the tasks of caring for and providing support to these young people on a day-to-day basis, you will also need to support them through the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK. Don’t worry about this your local Childrens Services can help you through this process by offering advice and guidance
Carers and hosts will support young people to develop the skills they will need to make the transition to adulthood in a new country.
One of the main challenges for young people is likely to be communication. Being in another country is confusing in itself, but if you do not speak the language, everything seems even more baffling.
If the young person does not speak your language, an interpreter will be needed for important meetings. But this service will not normally be available on a day-to-day basis.
Overcoming language barriers can seem daunting at first, but being creative in the way you communicate with each other can also be a great bonding (and fun) opportunity! Our carers tell us that this was what worried them the most however now they have done it, it is a lot easier than you first think.
Young people will be keen to learn your language. A priority should be to enrol them in education and to access language support. Many translation apps and websites can help you both to communicate.
Young people and carers often very quickly adapt their own creative ways of communicating (e.g. visuals, emojis, google translate).
No. Your religion is not a barrier. Young people should be placed with foster carers and supported lodgings hosts that can meet their needs, including their religious needs.
You need to be open to learning about new cultures and faiths, accepting of the young person’s cultural values and prepared to actively support them to access their faith.
If you do not share the religion and culture of the young person in your care, you will need to find out as much as you can about it and what it means to them. The religious belief may also have implications for food – some foods may be forbidden or need to be prepared a certain way – or clothing, such as covering legs or hair.
But even if you do share religion, bear in mind that there are always individual differences – you need to establish how keen the young person is to worship and observe religious practices. You may need to find out whether there is a suitable place of worship locally.
The vast range of cultural differences which you and the young person will have to contend with are, of course, complex but it is always stimulating and enjoyable to learn about this. It is important you give each other the opportunity to explore these differences together.
We are seeking foster carers and supported lodging hosts who are in the position to support young people who come from a range of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
To provide a home for an unaccompanied young person the first step is to fill out our online form. Your details will be forwarded to your local Childrens Services and they will be in touch to talk to you through the options of being a foster carer or a supported lodgings host. They will need to check you meet the initial criteria and of course answer any questions you may have. They will then arrange to visit you at home, so that you can find out in more depth information and they can to get to know you better. You’ll then need to fill in an application form and, if accepted, you’ll start your full fostering or supported lodgings assessment.
This assessment process may take a while to complete as it is important that this is right for carers and hosts and for the young people.
As with any child in care we will support contact with birth family and family reunification where it is safe to do so.
Young people will be missing their families and – if unsure about what has happened to
them – worrying about their fate. This can be an area where additional emotional support from the carer or host is needed as they may not know if their families are safe or alive.
Some young people will be keen to trace their parents and The Red Cross provide assistance with family tracing.
Don’t worry you will not be asked to care for or support their family.
In some cases, young people may not know or be unsure about their age. This may be because their country uses a different calendar, or because birthdays are not celebrated. Sometimes people arrive in the UK without any documents showing their age. If the Government thinks someone who says they are under 18 might be older and they can’t prove their age with documents, then they might ask a social worker to carry out something called an age assessment. An age assessment is used to decide what date of birth someone will have in the UK. Having their age disputed can cause young people incredible anxiety. While the age assessment is being carried out the young person should be treated as if they are under 18 and provided with a home and the care they need. Often after the allocated social worker meets the young person, they accept the age they claim to be and an age assessment is not required. This could be because after having a few good night’s sleep, some food, rest and reassurance, the young person looks a lot younger than when they first arrive.
Education is extremely important to young people and they can be keen to start this right away. An assessment of their education needs is undertaken and this will determine whether they attend mainstream schooling or alternative education provision.
Many young people quickly find their feet in the school or college system, make friends and integrate well, and their language skills rapidly improve.
Even if they are not in full time education or are doing night classes, many young people are capable of remaining home alone during the day if the carer is at work. Often they engage in hobbies, meet peers or practice their faith/ religious observance during the day. It is important to remember that unaccompanied young people are typical teenagers and as such enjoy activities such as football, gaming, social media, and shopping.
All young people receive a high level of support from their social worker, personal adviser and a range of other professionals and support services depending on their needs.
Legal advice relating to their asylum claim is provided by an Immigration Solicitor.
Young people, carers and hosts are able to access interpreting services to address any language barriers.
Your home is your home and they do not have any legal right over your property regardless of how long they stay with you.
Adrian gave a welcoming home to asylum seeking teens
A man who opened up his home to help teach teenage care leavers the skills to succeed says the experience is “incredibly rewarding”.
Adrian Scrafton is part of Middlesbrough Council’s supported lodgings scheme, which provides a stepping stone to independence for young people leaving care.
Currently, Adrian lives with two boys who arrived in England seeking asylum – one from Iran, aged 17, and an 18-year-old, from Iraq.
Providers like Adrian – who undergo full personal and background checks – offer a spare room in their home to those between 16 and 21, and act as an advocate and positive influence on young people.
“It’s that crucial period between foster care and independence, when they need that help,” said Adrian, 41.
“I have always taken on apprentices and work experience in my business, I’m a Rotary Club member and had worked with young people there, so it seemed like something I could do.
“It’s about helping young people with life skills. Budgeting money, cooking and using a washing machine, applying for courses and jobs. Even getting a mobile phone contract.
“These are things that we might take for granted as an adult, but these young people need reassurance and support.
“They need to learn a whole set of skills. You don’t realise how often you might have relied on your family, on your own support system, there’s just so much for them to remember and get comfortable with.”
But sometimes even Adrian, who runs a heating and plumbing business, is “thrown a curveball”.
That’s especially true of his current situation: “The two young lads I have now are great company, really funny.
“They came to the country seeking asylum and it has made things a bit more complicated. Systems and how things work here are different – they can’t get a bank account for example, as they don’t have settled status.
“So let me tell you a story – one of them needed to get to college for an exam, and his bus didn’t show up. Instead, he ran to the train station and jumped on a train. Of course, he didn’t have a bank card so he didn’t have enough for a ticket.
“He ended up with a small fine which I’ll help him with, but I was so impressed he tried so hard to get there – that showed initiative, he didn’t want to miss his exam – but it also shows how difficult things can be for him. It’s a learning curve.
“There are big cultural differences as well. In Iran, they don’t have electricity on all day.
“I’ve got dogs – two Labradors, a cockerspaniel and a sprocker puppy – and in the boys’ culture, dogs don’t live in the house as pets.
“One told me – if they lick my hands, I need to wash them seven times in water and then in mud. But we had a think about it, and we got him some gloves.
“Now, when I’m at work, they always make sure they have food and water. They let them in and out. They’ve even had them out for walks.”
While the boys have now adapted to Adrian’s home, there have been challenges – but even those are just another opportunity for learning and growth.
He continued: “We had an interpreter at first, but they both speak English and we communicate brilliantly. Mostly, they’ve been fine and they’ve shown how adaptable they are.”
Adrian had said the 17-year-old had become upset about comments made by a fellow student at college.
“That did upset him, but we spoke about it and on the whole, things have been good for him,” he continued.
Adrian said that the boys love to cook and clean – one wants to be a chef – and while dishes on the menu in his kitchen have adapted to become halal, both boys have enthusiastically helped prepare meals including game like rabbits and pheasants.
The older of the pair is football mad – despite trips to the Riverside Stadium, he supports Chelsea – and he referees games for local junior games.
“It’s all volunteering, he can’t work so he isn’t paid,” he continued.
Before the boys came in April and May, Adrian welcomed a teenage girl, now 18, into his home. She previously said Adrian’s support had given her the confidence to focus on her academic studies.
Simply asking if she’d thought about what university she wanted to go to inspired her to apply for Oxford, and fulfil her dream of being a journalist, she said.
The teen was set to return to the home to celebrate Christmas, and Adrian is modest when asked if he’s proud of the help he’s given her.
“I realise those little things now. I don’t think you understand at first the influence you have,” he continued. I just try to be myself. Young people deserve praise, they’re building their confidence and their personality.
“She was here during the Covid lockdowns – so it wasn’t the easiest. But we made it work and I’m so proud to see how far she’ll go.
“Being part of the supported lodgings service, it’s incredibly rewarding – you get to see them flourish and develop.
“It’s an honour, really, to be involved in that time of their lives and to be able to help. “I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks they can help.”
Unaccompanied Children – Case Studies
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